Federal, State Budget Troubles Force Drastic Cuts in Legal Help for Low-Income Texans

Cynthia Martinez, Communications Director * 512.374.2764 * cmartinez@trla.org

WESLACO, Texas — April 9, 2013 — Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) today announced that the sequestration of federal funding is forcing the organization to enact measures that will reduce the number of low-income Texans receiving free legal help each year.

A fifteen percent cut in federal funding in 2012, stagnant state funding, and a half a million dollar loss in revenue due to the sequester have put TRLA in a dire financial situation, forcing the organization to reduce operating costs by $3.5 million.  Among the measures announced today is a twenty-two percent workforce reduction, including the closing of the organization’s office in Del Rio.

According to TRLA Executive Director David Hall, “These are painful and traumatic times for legal aid organizations. We’ve been fortunate to avoid having to take drastic measures in the past, but our luck has run out.”

The most devastating impact of the cuts will be felt by low-income Texans in need of free legal assistance.  Currently Texas legal aid organizations are only able to serve twenty percent of Texans in need of legal help but unable to afford the cost of an attorney. TRLA helps approximately 22,000 of those Texans every year, including victims of domestic violence, veterans, and families facing homelessness. An estimated 5,000 fewer families will receive legal help as a result of these cuts.

“Our commitment to low-income Texans is unwavering. But the reality is that we’re going to have to turn away more people who need help,” added Hall. “Ensuring that all Texans have access to the justice system, regardless of their income, will require support from the community and private bar now more than ever.”

Established in 1970, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. (TRLA) is a nonprofit organization that provides free civil legal services to low-income and disadvantaged clients in a 68-county service area. TRLA’s mission is to promote the dignity, self-sufficiency, safety, and stability of low-income Texas residents by providing high-quality civil legal assistance and related educational services. For more information, including donor and pro bono opportunities, visit www.trla.org.


One thought on “Federal, State Budget Troubles Force Drastic Cuts in Legal Help for Low-Income Texans

  1. Reblogged this on Texas Poverty Law Blog and commented:
    Today Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid announced that because of federal and state budget woes it will be cutting its workforce by 22% and closing its Del Rio, Texas office. Of course the real losers in these cuts are not just the legal aid lawyers and staff who will lose their jobs, but the poor people of Texas who cannot afford legal representation. There will be that many fewer people to help those who need the help the most.

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